History of Mount Auburn.The celebrity attained by Mount Auburn, pronounced by European travellers the most beautiful Cemetery in existence, and which, perhaps, without assuming too much, may be called the Pere la Chaise of America,--the extraordinary natural loveliness of the spot,--the admirable character of the establishment which is there maintained,--the fact that this was the first conspicuous example of the kind in our country,--these, with many others we might mention, are considerations strongly in favor of putting on record a more accurate and complete history of its origin and progress than has yet been given to the public. Nor need we suppose that such an account will concern only the numerous class of individuals, chiefly belonging to our own vicinity, whose interest in this Cemetery is yet of the deepest and most delicate character,--that which kindred feel in the dust and monuments of kindred, and in the ground, whatever and wherever it may be, in whose bosom they expect their own remains may repose, when the great debt of nature shall be paid.  A feeling of less immediate and intimate application than this, but of the same kind, has evidently been for some years increasing and extending throughout the American community. In no small degree it is probably a result of the formation of the establishment at Mount Auburn itself. Something more and better than the mere love of novelty, or the ordinary admiration of what is admirable, is certainly at its foundation. It shows itself in works that speak louder than any language. Our Cemetery has become, within the few years of its existence, a model for all similar institutions in the United States, and more of these have been founded within the last half dozen years, than during the whole two centuries that preceded them. At this moment, associations in several of our principal cities and towns are engaged in such undertakings. It is well known that applications are continually made from these parties, for information relating to Mount Auburn. The multitudes of foreigners and other strangers, who frequent the northern metropolis during the travelling season, experience the same want. For them there is no resort of recreation (using that word in its just philosophical sense) in Boston or its vicinity, equally satisfactory with this “pleasant though mournful” spot. Nothing more perhaps is needed to complete their enjoyment of it, than a better knowledge than can at present be easily obtained, of the causes and sources to which they are indebted for the pleasure it gives them, of the principles upon which the establishment is conducted, and of the means by which its yet unrivalled perfections may be emulated in every section of the land.  In drawing up this account, which we propose to render as practically useful as may be, we have sought to fortify our authenticity by references to original and official documents, for the introduction of which we are confident the reader will require of us no apology beyond what is implied in this explanation. The subject is not of a character to excite the meditative mind for the moment to a mood of matter-of-fact enquiry, but it is certain, on the other hand, that a sentimental history — if such a thing might be — is not what is wanted. The considerations of a general nature which first led to the adoption of measures for the foundation of the establishment at Mount Auburn, are such as are already familiar, we must presume, to such of our readers as have reflected on the subject at all. In the address delivered at its consecration by Mr. Justice Story, they are expressed with equal force and beauty; as also in the Reports of Committees of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, published in 1831, and written by some of our most distinguished citizens. These papers will be incorporated in this history, or added to it, in due course; meanwhile it is proper to remark that not only sentiments and reflections similar to those which these publications express had long been entertained by many members of this community, but certain incipient steps towards the putting of such designs in execution had been taken, some years, at least, prior to the actual result now well known to the public. The earliest meeting on the subject of the Cemetery, so far as we have been able to ascertain, was held in November, 1825, at the house and by the instance of  our respected fellow-citizen, Dr. Jacob Bigelow, on which occasion were present with himself Messrs. John Lowell, George Bond, William Sturgis, Thomas W. Ward, Samuel P. Gardiner, John Tappan and Nathan Hale. The design of a Cemetery somewhere in the vicinity of the city met with unanimous approval, and Messrs. Bond and Tappan were appointed a Committee to make enquiries, and report a suitable piece of ground for the purpose. The Committee were unsuccessful in their enquiries, and never reported, nor was the subject ever actively revived in any way by these immediate parties. The next movement was in 1830, when Dr. Bigelow, having obtained from George W. Brimmer, Esq., the offer of “Sweet Auburn,” for a Public Cemetery, at the price of six thousand dollars, communicated the fact to the officers of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and engaged their co-operation as private individuals in a great effort to accomplish the object in view. A meeting of members of that Society was held on the twenty-third of November, by invitation of Messrs. Bigelow and John C. Gray, to discuss the plan of a Cemetery to be connected with an “Experimental Garden” of the Society. A Committee of the Society was now appointed, consisting of Messrs. H. A. S. Dearborn, Jacob Bigelow, Edward Everett, G. Bond, J. C. Gray, Abbott Lawrence, and George W. Brimmer. These gentlemen called a more general meeting on the eighth of June, 1831, “to consider the details of a plan now about to be carried into execution,” &c. On this occasion the attendance was large. Mr. Justice Story took the chair, and the Hon. E. Everett acted as Secretary.  Great interest and equanimity were expressed in regard to the design of the meeting. It was now voted to purchase Sweet Auburn, provided one hundred subscribers could be obtained, at sixty dollars each; also to appoint a Committee of twenty to report on a general plan of proceedings proper to be adopted towards effecting the objects of the meeting; and the following gentlemen were chosen:--Messrs. Joseph Story, Daniel Webster, H. A. S. Dearborn, Charles Lowell, Samuel Appleton, Jacob Bigelow, Edward Everett, George W. Brimmer, George Bond, A. H. Everett, Abbott Lawrence, James T. Austin, Franklin Dexter, Joseph P. Bradlee, Charles Tappan, Charles P. Curtis, Zebedee Cook, Jr., John Pierpont, L. M. Sargent and George W. Pratt, Esquires. An elaborate Report, on the general objects of the meeting, was on this occasion offered by the previously appointed Committee.1 Another meeting was held on the 11th of June, at which the Committee of twenty reported- 1. That it is expedient to purchase, for a Garden and Cemetery, a tract of land, commonly known by the name of Sweet Auburn, near the road leading from Cambridge to Watertown, containing about seventy-two acres, for the sum of six thousand dollars: provided this sum can be raised in the manner proposed in the second article of this report. 2. That a subscription be opened for lots of ground in the said tract, containing not less than two hundred square feet each, at the price of sixty dollars for each  lot, the subscription not to be binding until one hundred lots are subscribed for. 3. That when a hundred or more lots are taken, the right of choice shall be disposed of at an auction, of which seasonable notice shall be given to the subscribers. 4. That those subscribers, who do not offer a premium for the right of choosing, shall have their lots assigned to them by lot. 5. That the fee of the land shall be vested in the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, but that the use of the lots, agreeably to an Act of the Legislature, respecting the same, shall be secured to the subscribers, their heirs and assigns, forever. 6. That the land devoted to the purpose of a Cemetery shall contain not less than forty acres. 7. That every subscriber, upon paying for his lot, shall become a member, for life, of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, without being subject to assessments. 8. That a Garden and Cemetery Committee of nine persons shall be chosen annually, first by the subscribers, and afterwards by the Horticultural Society, whose duty it shall be to cause the necessary surveys and allotments to be made, to assign a suitable tract of land for the Garden of the Society, and to direct all matters appertaining to the regulation of the Garden and Cemetery; five at least of this Committee shall be persons having rights in the Cemetery. 9. That the establishment, including the Garden and Cemetery, be called by a definite name, to be supplied by the Committee,  The Society on this occasion Resolved, “That the Report of the Committee on an Experimental Garden and Rural Cemetery be accepted, and that said Committee be authorized to proceed in the establishment of a Garden and Cemetery, in conformity to the Report which has this day been made and accepted.” The following article, which appeared about this time in the Daily Advertiser, (attributed to the pen of the distinguished gentleman who acted as secretary of some of the meetings above referred to) conveys so complete an idea of the reasoning and spirit that animated the movements now described, in which this establishment had its beginning, that, although not an official document strictly, it may be considered indispensable to a satisfactory account of these proceedings, and we therefore, as well as for the sake of the style of the paper itself, insert it entire:
The spot, which has been selected for this establishment, has not been chosen without great deliberation, and a reference to every other place in the vicinity of Boston, which has been named for the same purpose. In fact, the difficulty of finding a proper place has been for several years the chief obstacle to the execution of this project. The spot chosen is as near Boston as is consistent with perfect security from the approach of those establishments, usually found in the neighborhood of a large town, but not in harmony with the character of a place of burial. It stands near a fine sweep in Charles River. It presents every variety of surface, rising in one part into a beautiful elevation, level in others, with intermediate depressions, and a considerable part of the whole covered with the natural growth  of wood. In fact, the place has long been noted for its rural beauty, its romantic seclusion and its fine prospect; and it is confidently believed, that there is not another to be named, possessing the same union of advantages. It is proposed to set apart a considerable portion of this delightful spot, for the purpose of a burial place. Little will be required from the hand of art to fit it for that purpose. Nature has already done almost all that is required. Scarcely any thing is needed but a suitable enclosure; and such walks as will give access to the different parts of the enclosed space, and exhibit its features to the greatest advantage. It is proposed, (as it appears from the report above cited) to divide the parts of the tract, best adapted to that purpose, into lots, containing two hundred or more square feet, to be used by individuals becoming proprietors of them, for the purposes of burial. It will be at the option of those interested to build tombs of the usual construction on these lots, or to make graves in them, when occasion may require; identifying the lot by a single monument, or the graves by separate stones, or leaving the whole without any other ornament, than the green turf and the overshadowing trees. By the act of the Legislature, authorizing the Horticultural Society to establish this Cemetery, it is placed under the protection of the Laws, and consecrated to the perpetual occupancy of the dead. Being connected with the adjacent experimental garden, it will be under the constant inspection of the Society's Gardener; and thus possess advantages, in reference to the care and neatness with which it will be kept, not usually  found in places of burial. A formal act of dedication with religious solemnities, will impart to it a character of sanctity; and consecrate it to the sacred purposes for which it is destined. It is a matter of obvious consideration, that with the rapid increase of the City of Boston, many years cannot elapse, before the deposit of the dead within its limits must cease. It is already attended with considerable difficulty and is open to serious objection. The establishment now contemplated presents an opportunity for all, who wish to enjoy it, of providing a place of burial for those, for whom it is their duty to make such provision. The space is ample affording room for as large a number of lots as may be required, for a considerable length of time; and the price at which they are now to be purchased, it is believed, is considerably less than that of tombs, in the usual places of their construction. Although no one, whose feelings and principles are sound, can regard without tenderness and delicacy the question, where he will deposit the remains of those, whom it is his duty to follow to their last home, yet it may be feared, that too little thought has been had for the decent aspect of our places of sepulture or their highest adaptation to their great object. Our burial places are in the cities crowded till they are full, nor, in general, does any other object, either in town or country, appear to have been had in view in them, than that of confining the remains of the departed to the smallest portion of earth that will hide them. Trees, whose inexpressible beauty has been provided by the hand of the Creator, as the great ornament of  the earth, have rarely been planted about our grave yards; the enclosures are generally inadequate and neglected, the graves indecently crowded together, and often, after a few years, disturbed; and the whole appearance as little calculated as possible to invite the visits of the seriously disposed, to tranquilize the feelings of surviving friends, and to gratify that disposition which would lead us to pay respect to their ashes. Nor has it hitherto been in the power even of those, who might be able and willing to do it, to remedy these evils, as far as they are themselves concerned. Great objections exist to a place of sepulture in a private field; particularly this, that in a few years, it is likely to pass into the hands of those who will take no interest in preserving its sacred deposit from the plough. The mother of Washington lies buried in a field, the property of a person not related to her family, and in a spot which cannot now be identified. In the public grave yard it is not always in the power of an individual, to appropriate to a single place of burial, space enough for the purposes of decent and respectful ornament. The proposed establishment seems to furnish every facility for gratifying the desire, which must rank among the purest and strongest of the human heart; and which would have been much more frequently indicated, but for the very serious, and sometimes insuperable obstacles of which we have spoken. Here it will be in the power of every one, who may wish it, at an expense considerably less than that of a common tomb or a vault beneath a church, to deposit the mortal remains of his friends; and to provide a place of burial  for himself,--which while living he may contemplate without dread or disgust; one which is secure from the danger of being encroached upon as in the grave yards of the city; secluded from every species of uncongenial intrusion; surrounded with every thing that can fill the heart with tender and respectful emotions:beneath the shade of a venerable tree, on the slope of the verdant lawn, and within the seclusion of the forest ;--removed from all the discordant scenes of life. Such were the places of burial of the ancient nations. In a spot like this, were laid the remains of the patriarchs of Israel. In the neighborhood of their great cities the ancient Egyptians established extensive cities of the dead; and the Greeks and Romans erected the monuments of the departed by the road side; on the approach to their cities, or in pleasant groves in their suburbs. A part of the Grove of Academus, near Athens, famous for the school of Plato, was appropriated to the sepulchres of their men of renown; and it was the saying of Themistocles, that the monuments he beheld there, would not permit him to sleep. The Appian Way was lined with the monuments of the heroes and sages of Rome. In modern times, the Turkish people are eminent for that respectful care of the places of sepulture, which forms an interesting trait of the oriental character. At the heed and foot of each grave, a cypress tree is planted, so that the grave yard becomes in a few years, a deep and shady grove. These sacred precincts are never violated; they form the most beautiful suburbs to the cities, and not unfrequently when the city of the living has been swept away by the political vicissitudes, frequent under that government,  the Grove of Cypress remains,--spreading its sacred shelter over the city of the dead. In the City of Boston, the inconveniences of the present modes of burial are severely felt, and it is as a becoming appendage, an interesting ornament of the town, that this Cemetery should be regarded. When it shall be laid out, with suitable walks and the appropriate spots shall begin to be adorned with the various memorials, which affection and respect may erect to the departed, what object in or near Boston will be equally attractive? What would sooner arrest the attention of the stranger; whither would a man of reflection and serious temper sooner direct his steps? Had such a Cemetery, with prophetic forethought of posterity, been laid out in the first settlement of the country, and all our venerated dead,--the eminent in church and state-been deposited side by side, with plain but enduring monuments, it would possess already an interest of the most elevated and affecting character. Such a place of deposit is Pee la Chaise near Paris, which has already become a spot of the greatest interest and attraction, furnishing the model to similar establishments in various parts of Europe, and well deserving to be had in view, in that which is in contemplation here. The vicinity of our venerable University suggests an interesting train of associations, connected with this spot. It has ever been the favorite resort of the students. There are hundreds now living, who have passed some of the happiest hours of the happiest period of their lives, beneath the shade of the trees in this secluded forest. It will become the place of burial for the University. Here will the dust of the young men, who  may be cut off before their academic course is run, be laid by their classmates. Here will be deposited those who may die in the offices of instruction and government. Nor is it impossible, that the several class associations, which form a beautiful feature of our college life, may each appropriate to themselves a lot, where such of their brethren as may desire it, may be brought back to be deposited in the soil of the spot where they passed their early years. The establishment contemplated will afford the means of paying a tribute of respect, by a monumental erection, to the names and memory of great and good men, whenever or wherever they have died. Its summit may be consecrated to Washington, by a Cenotaph inscribed with his name. Public sentiment will often delight in these tributes of respect, and the place may gradually become the honorary mausoleum for the distinguished sons of Massachusetts. This design, though but recently made public, has been long in contemplation; and, as is believed, has been favored with unusual approbation. It has drawn forth much unsolicited and earnest concurrence. It has touched a chord of sympathy, which vibrates in every heart. Let us take an affectionate and pious care of our dead;--let us turn to some good account, in softening and humanizing the public feeling, that sentiment of tenderness toward the departed, which is natural and ineradicable in man. Let us employ some of the superfluous wealth now often expended in luxury worse than useless, in rendering the place where our beloved friends repose, decent, attractive, and grateful at once to the eye and the heart. In June, 1831, the protection of the Commonwealth being deemed necessary to the proper management of the enterprise of the Horticultural Society, the following Act was applied for and obtained:
At a meeting of subscribers called August 3d, 1831, it appeared that the subscription had become obligatory, according to the program above stated, by the taking of a hundred lots. In fact, the paper was filled up to a much greater extent than was either required or expected, as may be seen by reference to the original  document ;2 a result which, it may be proper to say, was in a very considerable degree owing to the zealous efforts of one individual, the late Mr. Josiah P. Bradlee, who engaged in this enterprise with his characteristic spirit. Nor is it but just to add that he was most efficiently aided by others. The following gentlemen were now chosen to constitute a “Garden and Cemetery Committee :” Messrs. Joseph Story, H. A. S. Dearborn, Jacob Bigelow, E. Everett, G. W. Brimmer, George Bond, Charles Wells, Benjamin A. Gould, and George W. Pratt. At the same time, arrangements were made for a public religious consecration, to be held on the Society's grounds. At a meeting, August 8th, a sub-committee was appointed to procure an accurate topographical survey of Mount Auburn, and report a plan for laying it out into lots. This service was performed subsequently by Mr. Alexander Wadsworth, Civil Engineer. The consecration of the Cemetery took place on Saturday, September 24th, 1831. A temporary amphitheatre was fitted up with seats, in one of the deep vallies of the wood, having a platform for the speakers erected at the bottom. An audience of nearly two thousand persons were seated among the trees, adding a scene of picturesque beauty to the impressive solemnity of the occasion. The order of performances was as follows:--  1. Instrumental Music, by the Boston Band. 2. Introductory Prayer, by Rev. Dr. Ware. 3. Hymn,
4. Address, by the Hon. Joseph Story. 5. Concluding Prayer, by the Rev. Mr. Pierpont. 6. Music by the band.  A cloudless sun and an atmosphere purified by showers, combined to make the day one of the most delightful we ever experience at this season of the year. It is unnecessary to say that the address by Judge Story was pertinent to the occasion, for, if the name of the orator were not sufficient, the perfect silence of the multitude, enabling him to be heard with distinctness at the most distant part of the beautiful amphitheatre in which the services were performed, would be sufficient testimony as to its worth and beauty. Nor is it in the pen's power to furnish any adequate description of the effect produced by the music of the thousand voices which joined in the hymn, as it swelled in chastened melody from the bottom of the glen, and, like the spirit of devotion, found an echo in every heart, and pervaded the whole scene. Some account of Mount Auburn itself, as it existed at this stage of its history, may with propriety be here introduced. The tract of land which bears this name, is situated on the Southerly side of the main road leading from Cambridge to Watertown, partly within the limits of both those towns, and distant about four miles from Boston. Formerly it was known by the name of Stone's Woods, the title to most of the land having remained in the family of Stones from an early period after the settlement of the country. Mr. Brimmer made purchase of the hill and part of the woodlands within a few years, chiefly with the view of preventing the destruction of the trees, and to his disinterested love of the beautiful in nature, may be attributed the preservation of this lovely spot. The first purchase of  the Society included between seventy and eighty acres, extending from the road nearly to the banks of Charles River. The Experimental Garden commenced by the Association was to have been upon that portion of the ground next to the road, and separated from the Cemetery by a long water-course, running between this tract and the interior wood-land. The latter is covered, throughout most of its extent, with a vigorous growth of forest trees, many of them of large size, and comprising an unusual variety of kinds. This tract is beautifully undulating in its surface, containing a number of bold eminences, steep acclivities, and deep shadowy vallies. A remarkable natural ridge with a level surface runs through the ground from south-east to north-west, and has for many years been known as a secluded and favorite walk. The principal eminence, called Mount Auburn in the plan, is one hundred and twenty-five feet above the level of Charles river, and commands from its summit one of the finest prospects which can be obtained in the environs of Boston. On one side is the city in full view, connected at its extremities with Charlestown and Roxbury. The serpentine course of Charles River, with the cultivated hills and fields rising beyond it, and having the Blue Hills of Milton in the distance, occupies another portion of the landscape. The village of Cambridge, with the venerable edifices of Harvard University, are situated about a mile to the east-ward. On the north, at a very small distance, Fresh Pond appears, a handsome sheet of water, finely diversified by its woody and irregular shores. Country seats and cottages seen in various directions, and those on the elevated land at Watertown, especially, add much to the picturesque effect of the scene.  The grounds of the Cemetery were laid out with intersecting avenues, so as to render every part of the wood accessible. These avenues are curved and variously winding in their course, so as to be adapted to the natural inequalities of the surface. By this arrangement the greatest economy of the land is produced, combining at the same time the picturesque effect of landscape gardening. Over the more level portions, the avenues are made twenty feet wide, and are suitable for carriage-roads. The more broken and precipitous parts are approached by foot-paths, which are six feet in width. These passage-ways are smoothly gravelled, and planted on both sides with flowers and ornamental shrubs. Lots of ground, (containing each three hundred square feet) are set off as family burial-places, at suitable distances on the sides of the avenues and paths.3 The nature of the privileges now granted to the purchasers of these lots by the proprietors, may be learned by reference to the form of conveyance employed.4 We have inserted also the names of the hills, foot-paths and avenues, which it was found convenient to adopt.5 These were laid out by a Committee, of which General Dearborn was Chairman. The Egyptian gateway, which forms the chief entrance to the grounds, was designed by Dr. Bigelow. The first choice of lots was offered for sale, by auction, Nov. 28th, 1831; the first two hundred being then made purchasable to subscribers on the following conditions:  1. Each lot contains three hundred square feet, exclusive of ground necessary to fence the same, for which sixty dollars are to be paid. 2. In addition to said sum of sixty dollars, the sum bid for the right of selection is to be paid, and the bidder is to decide on the lot he will take at the moment of sale. 3. If any subscriber be not satisfied with the lot sold or assigned to him, he may at any time within six months exchange the same for any other among the lots already laid out, if any such remain unappropriated. 4. If any subscriber shall wish to enlarge his lot, the Garden and Cemetery Committee may, if they see no objection, set off to him land for that purpose, on his paying for the same at the rate of twenty cents per square foot. 5. A receiving tomb is provided in the City, and one will be constructed at Mount Auburn, in which, if desired, bodies may be deposited for a term not exceeding six months. At this sale, the one hundred and fifty-seven lots previously subscribed for, were assigned, at sixty dollars each. The amount bid for the right of selection at the same time, (from twelve dollars to one hundred dollars, each lot,) was $957,50. Mount Auburn, it is generally well known, is now the property of a separate and distinct corporation, having no connection with the Horticultural Society. This transfer was effected in 1835, and the following Act was that year obtained from the Legislature of the Commonwealth, for the incorporation of the proprietors by themselves: 
 The amount paid by these proprietors to the Horticultural Society, under the articles of separation, was $4,223,42. The original cost of the land was $9,766,89. The quantity, in all, is one hundred and ten and a quarter acres, a piece having been added, on the west side, to the first purchase. The total cost of grounds and improvements, up to the close of the year last past, is $34,107,57. The whole number of lots disposed of at that date was six hundred and thirty-four, and the amount of purchase-money, including that given for selection, $50,077,59. The Proprietors had funds invested in Treasury to the amount of $11,980,79. The following is the return of tombs built, monuments erected, and interments, for each year, since the establishment of the Cemetery, ending December, 1838.
|1st year ending Dec. 8, 1832||6||5||17|
|2nd year ending Dec. 8, 1833||11||12||71|
|3rd year ending Dec. 8, 1834||21||16||101|
|4th year ending Dec. 8, 1835||22||38||101|
|5th year ending Dec. 8, 1836||19||17||175|
|6th year ending Dec. 8, 1837||43||21||191|
|7th year ending Dec. 8, 1838||22||16||174|
It is a part of the original design of this establishment, though not an obligatory one, that interments shall be made in single or separate graves, rather than in tombs. The abundant space afforded by the extensiveness of the tract which has been purchased, precludes the necessity of constructing vaults for the promiscuous concentration of numbers. It is believed that the common grave affords the most simple, natural and secure method by which the body may return to the bosom of the earth, to be peacefully blended with its original dust. Whatever consolation can be derived from the gathering together of members of the same families, is provided for by the appropriation of lots, each sufficient for a family, while the provision that the same spot or grave shall not be twice occupied for interment, secures to the buried an assurance of undisturbed rest, not always found in more costly constructions. On the same subject another consideration may be added. It is desired that the place may become beautiful, attractive, consoling,--not gloomy and repulsive,  that what the earth has once covered it shall not again reveal to light,--that the resources of art shall not be wasted in vain efforts to delay or modify the inevitable courses of nature. It is hoped, therefore, that any sums which individuals may think it proper to devote to the improvement of the place of sepulture of themselves and their friends, may be expended above the surface of the earth,--not under it. A beautiful monument is interesting to every one. A simple bed of roses under the broad canopy of heaven, is a more approachable, a far more soothing object, than the most costly charnel-house.To the summary sketch here given of the present condition of Mount Auburn, it may be proper to add that it is believed to be the intention of the proprietors, as soon as their funds may allow, to surround the establishment with a wall of stone, in place of the fence now existing. This improvement will doubtless be at once of a substantial and elegant design. Other additions will of course occur from time to time. We take occasion to suggest, meanwhile, the desirableness of donations and legacies to the Corporation, for uses of the description now referred to, on the part of those opulent admirers of nature, and patrons of the arts, who are interested in the decoration of these sacred grounds.